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Huston-Tillotson University Students Take First Place
in the Ford HBCU Community Challenge
Students Address Sustainability with the Dumpster Project

(AUSTIN, Texas) 12.6.13 — Huston-Tillotson University students Angelica Erazo, Maurice Fleming, Evette Jackson, Sarah Lindell, and Olivia Sanchez, representing the Green is the New Black student organization, captured first place in the nationwide Ford Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Community Challenge held recently in Detroit, MI. The students compiled a presentation around the theme titled, “Building Sustainable Communities” that captured an educational program to address issues of sustainability in Black and Hispanic communities. HT’s students introduced the challenge of transforming a 33-square foot dumpster into a fully functioning home complete with running water, toilet, shower, bed, and solar-generated electricity.

“Students embracing HT’s campus-wide sustainability efforts with this first place victory on a national scale, speaks to the commitment of faculty who are imparting the knowledge to effect change among this upcoming generation,” said HT President and CEO Larry L. Earvin, Ph.D.

HT’s Green is the New Black program and slogan strives to launch a movement among Historically Black Colleges and Universities and within minority communities around “less is more.” The project engages students in the community in an informative and entertaining way through on-campus experiences; dumpster design challenges; a Dumpster 101 course during Spring 2013; field trips to a landfill and recycling center; a shared garden; and a collaborative online learning website.

HT faculty advisors include Dr. Jeff Wilson (Professor Dumpster), Dean of the University College and Environmental Science Professor; Dr. Monique Johnson-Jones, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Director; and Dr. Amando Masino, Assistant Professor of Biology.

Flemings described the competition as “epic” and says that part of the winning formula was critical faculty critique of students’ research during campus mock presentations. “The competition was academically stimulating and full of energy,” he stated.

Student Co-Chairs Sanchez and Fleming managed the Dumpster Project; Lindell managed composting and campus gardening; Jackson facilitated waste and recycling; and Erazo provided leadership to green and sustainability education in the community during the competition. Their concepts focused on the competition components of education and training, safety, sustainability and mobility, environmental sustainability, and urban design.

The HT team advanced to the finals to capture a $5,000 prize before beating teams from Howard, Tuskegee, and Fayetteville State universities to win the $75,000 grand prize.

During the past five years, Huston-Tillotson University has enhanced its STEM offerings by developing new Environmental Studies courses, renovating the Dickey-Lawless Science Building, retrofitting and upgrading the laboratories, incorporating energy efficient lighting with sensors, and installing new heating and air conditioning units throughout the campus to support carbon footprint reduction and sustainability efforts.

Reducing total municipal waste by more than 80% and other green efforts resulted in recognition for Huston-Tillotson University from the National Wildlife Federation. In 2008, the University received an award for its sustainability efforts and commitment to creating a campus community that focuses on recycling, energy conservation, and waste reduction.

Huston-Tillotson University with roots dating to 1875, is the oldest institution of higher education in Austin, Texas. The University is affiliated with The United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, and is a charter member of UNCF.

Ford HBCU Challenge

Green is the New Black

Watch their video submission.